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May 19, 2010

Happiness Project Wednesday: Spend out

Every Wednesday I’m recording how The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin has influenced my daily life.  To read my introductory post, click here.

This is Gretchen’s (oh yes, she’s Gretchen to me; after all we’re both redheads, concerned with the subject of happiness, and a bit miserly by nature) 7th personal commandment.  She explores various dimensions of spending out in this post, but basically she means “to stop hoarding, to trust in abundance.”

I could probably do a whole series just on this one concept because, well, it’s a big problem for me.  Like Gretchen, I “save” things.  I have long thought that there are two kinds of people in this world, those who wear a new outfit the day they bring it home and those who “save” it in its pristine, untouched form.  I am most definitely the latter.

I buy a new sponge because the old one is disgusting and I keep it under the kitchen sink because it will get dirty if I open it.

I get new underwear because my old stuff is worn out and I keep it in the package and continue to wear the old pairs.

I bring home a nice plastic bag, say from the BYU Bookstore, and I save it in my bag drawer.  [I mean, after all, I may never get my hands on such a nice bag again.  Except for the next time I go and they give me another bag, just the same as they’ve been doing for the past 15 years that I’ve been visiting the BYU Bookstore.]

See how this is a problem?

While the bag drawer issue is probably not going away anytime soon, since family and friends have staged interventions to no avail since I was about 9 years old, I have made a small positive change in the “spending out” arena.

Behold, the soap:

I LOVE the Bath and Body Works warm vanilla sugar scent.  Although I have never purchased any for myself (my extreme frugality is the subject for another day), my mom has been giving me the soap, lotion, shampoo, and whatever else she can get her hands on for Christmas for about a decade now.  I get so excited when I open it up, smell it, admire the pretty bottles.  I rejoice!!

And then I put it at the bottom of the linen closet to save for a time when we own our own, perfectly designed, exquisitely clean home.  Considering that I may be like 45 when Neal graduates from college, this may be ill-advised.

So I decided it was high time to spend out.  I put a bottle of the fancy soap by the kitchen sink.  I put one by the bathroom sink.  I put away the other cheap, mixed-with-water-to-make-it-last-longer soap dispensers so I wouldn’t keep using them.

Now when I wash my hands, which I do far more frequently with an infant on board, I do it in sheer luxury.  I rub my hands together longer and I smell them afterward.

Spend out.

Someday I may even work on the lotion:

Baby steps.



  1. It’s true! For all that I preach simplicity, I have as much stuff hoarded as anyone. I think it is a natural result of trying to be frugal.

    Comment by Rachel C. — May 19, 2010 @ 7:55 pm

  2. When I first read that you “save” things, I thought, “Oh, yeah, I’m definitely a saver.” But I always wear my new clothes, especially the underwear. I’m not that kind of saver! You can come see what I mean by “saver” at my massive garage sale at the end of the summer 🙂 I love the idea of spending out. Candles and perfume were the big ones for me:

    Comment by Nikki — May 19, 2010 @ 11:06 pm

  3. Not to the extent you are, but me too. Also working on it!

    Comment by Vickie Blanchard — May 20, 2010 @ 12:47 am

  4. Look at you! I think you should leave the bottle all lined up on the counter and use a different bottle each time you wash your hands, that would be really spending out.

    Comment by Kirsten — May 20, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

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